In Breaking Bad, allies are hard to come by

In last night’s tension-filled episode of Breaking Bad, we are treated to several critical — and much anticipated — encounters. Things are moving quickly now as everyone tries to keep ahead of the other. Episode recap and spoilers ahead.

“Buried” is episode 10 of Breaking Bad’s fifth and final season, and the second episode of the season’s second part. It picks up immediately where the previous one left off, with Walt leaving Hank’s garage after their much anticipated “tread lightly” confrontation. With Walt now fully aware that Hank is onto him, and in an effort to stay one step ahead, he immediately calls Skyler — only to find that Hank got to her first.

"You're done being his victim"

Skyler and Hank meet at a restaurant, the first of several critical encounters featured in the episode.

“He’s a monster,” Hank tells her, but “you’re done being his victim.” He sincerely believes that Skyler has somehow been coerced by Walt, and that that time has come for her to come forward. He literally pulls out a voice-recorder and asks Skyler to tell him everything. But the encounter doesn’t go as Hank had anticipated.

Feeling pressured, she wonders if it would be better to speak to a lawyer, to which Hank responds by saying that it would merely serve to roadblock the process; he informs Skyler that Walt’s cancer has returned and that they’re in a race against time to convict him. Alarmed that Hank wants to get to Walt "at all costs" — and convinced that he doesn’t have enough evidence to move forward — Skyler resists and asks Hank if she’s under arrest. The conversation ends with a near-hysterical Skyler leaving the restaurant.

It becomes clear to Hank that she is not going to be the ally he was hoping for. Skyler, despite all that has happened, isn't going down without a fight.

Buried

Unable to get a hold of Skyler (or Jesse for that matter), Walt pays his lawyer a visit. In typical Saul fashion, he proceeds to inject no small amount of paranoia into the situation.

“I can’t believe she went to him — without a moment’s hesitation,” responds Walt. Saul tells him not to answer Skyler’s calls — that the lines could be bugged. He then hints that Walt should off Hank in the same way he did Mike Ehrmantraut — an idea that Walt angrily rejects. Offing “family” in this way is not how Walt wants to do business.

After the meeting, Walt has Saul’s lackeys stuff his immense stacks of cash into barrels. He drives into the desert and buries them — noting their exact coordinates on a lottery ticket that gets stuck to the fridge.

Sister Act

While Hank is gone, Marie pays Skyler a visit as Hank waits on the driveway. Hank has clearly informed Marie of the situation, so she goes to in to confront her sister. Skyler remains quiet and denies nothing. Marie starts to piece everything together — the “gambling”, the pool incident, everything.

“You won’t talk to Hank because you think Walt is going to get away with this,” she says.

It then occurs to Marie that Skyler knew about Walt’s meth operation before Hank was shot. Outraged, she violently smacks Skyler across the face and threatens to take the baby.

In what was clearly the dramatic highpoint of the episode, Skyler and Marie argue over who should have custody of the baby. Hanks comes in and tells Marie to give the baby back to Skyler. Back in the van, a grim-faced Marie says to Hank: “You have to get him.”

For Marie, now, this just got real personal.

Walt eventually returns home from the desert and passes out from exhaustion. With Skyler now aware that Walt’s cancer is back — and that it’s likely terminal — he mumbles that he should just turn himself in, but insists that she keep the money at all costs. Skyler, not convinced that Hank has a case, suggests that their best move may be to stay quiet.

Impure Intentions

We also get to see Lydia take care of business in this episode — despite her squeamishness over such matters.

Blindfolded and taken into the desert for a meeting with Declan and the Arizona cartel, she gets to see the new meth lab — a bus that’s been buried underground. It’s filthy. “This is not even close to the standards of your predecessor,” she says to him. To which he responds: “Heisenberg doesn’t matter any more.” Lydia tells Declan that his meth is so substandard that she can’t move it in the Czech Republic, and that he should let Todd assume responsibilities as cook. He refuses.

At this point, Declan is called to the surface while Lydia waits in the lab. A gunfight can then be heard as Lydia waits. The hatch eventually opens with Todd calling Lydia up at which point it’s revealed that he and his uncles killed all the members of the Arizona cartel — clearly at Lydia’s request.

Then, in a highly memorable scene, Lydia is escorted back to the car as she covers her eyes — unable to look at the carnage she herself inflicted.

Proof, Not Suspicion

Hank tells Marie that it’s not going to be simple to build a case. He fears that he’ll be fired when its revealed that the drug lord he’s been tracking has been right under his nose the whole time. “When I’m going in there, I’m bringing proof — not suspicion,” he says.

In Breaking Bad, allies are hard to come by

Hank returns to the office, wherein he learns from Steven Gomez that Jesse has been arrested after tossing millions of dollars around the streets of Albuquerque. Hank convinces the interrogators, Detectives Kalanchoe and Munn, that he be allowed to speak to Jesse privately — and they agree. This ends the episode, setting up a dramatic confrontation for episode 11.

So an excellent episode. Great dialogue and some fantastic acting as usual. We saw how Skyler is choosing to deal with Hank — and that her ties to Walt are stronger than we expected.

We also got to see the relationship between Skyler and Marie completely shatter, and it’ll be interesting to see how this particular dynamic plays itself out. It’s going to be hard — if not impossible — for Marie to understand or forgive what Skyler has done.

It’s also interesting to see how Lydia’s character is developing. Despite always looking, and even acting, like the fish out of water, she’s proving that she's disturbingly capable at times.

And as for Hank, he may be treading lightly — but he’s definitely treading.

Images: AMC.